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'A Virtuous People Praying to a Righteous God': Trump Honors D-Day Heroes on 75th Anniversary

06-06-2019
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It was 75 years ago today that Allied forces landed in France on what became known as D-Day, the invasion that drove out the Nazis and eventually ended World War II in Europe.

Today, President Donald Trump and France's President Emanuel Macron honored the men who took the Normandy beaches. And some of those men – well into their 90s – were on hand.

The solemn ceremonies included a 21-gun salute, flyovers, and a joint French and American playing of Taps to mark the beginning of victory over Nazi Germany and honor the Allied troops who carried out the strike.

President Trump honored 60 surviving veterans who were in attendance, saying, "You are among the greatest Americans to ever live. You are the pride of our nation… and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts."

"You are the pride of our nation, you are the glory of our republic and we thank you from the bottom of our heart," Trump said.

"They battled not for control and domination, but for liberty, democracy and self-rule. They pressed on for love, home and country, the main streets, the school yards, the churches, and neighbours, the families and communities that gave us men such as these. They were sustained by the confidence that America can do anything. Because we are a noble nation, with a virtuous people praying to a righteous God. The exceptional might came from a truly exceptional spirit. The abundance of courage came from an abundance of faith. The great deeds of an army came from the great depths of their love," Trump said.

And French President Macron bestowed five Americans with France's highest honor.

He praised the veterans for their "unthinkable courage" that compelled them "to help men and women they didn't know, to liberate a land most hadn't seen before, for no other cause but freedom, democracy."

At an earlier ceremony overlooking Gold Beach, British Prime Minister Theresa May said, "If one day can be said to have determined the fate of generations to come, in France, in Britain, in Europe and the world, that day was the 6th of June, 1944."

On Wednesday, 97-year-old paratrooper Tom Rice who landed in Normandy on June 6, 1944, reenacted the jump, alongside a planeload of current members of his 101st Airborne Division.

"Great, great! Beautiful drive, beautiful jump, beautiful flight, everything was perfect!" Rice said.

The landing, he says, was not perfect, but Tom proved he's still tough as nails.

"The D-Day jump I landed standing up for the most part and then went down to my knees and bounced a couple times because I had so much equipment and I had a difficult time getting out of that equipment," he recalled.

That's the same toughness thousands from the greatest generation displayed on D-Day. 

"I don't want anyone to forget this. It's too important...it's just too important to our country," another D-Day veteran said.

"May God bless our vets, may God bless our allies, may God bless the heroes of DDay, and may God bless America," President Trump said.

Before the ceremony, Trump and First lady Melania Trump visited the French cemetery where more than 9,000 troops are buried. He now heads to Ireland to conclude his European trip.
 

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